• turbulence;
  • atmospheric effects;
  • methods: numerical;
  • site testing


The mesoscale model Meso-NH is used to simulate the optical turbulence at Mt Graham (Arizona, USA), site of the Large Binocular Telescope. Measurements of the C2N profiles obtained with a generalized scidar from 41 nights are used to calibrate and quantify the model's ability to reconstruct the optical turbulence above the site. The measurements are distributed over different periods of the year, permitting us to study the model's performance in different seasons. A statistical analysis of the simulations is performed for all the most important astroclimatic parameters: the C2N profiles, the seeing ɛ, the isoplanatic angle θ0 and the wavefront coherence time τ0.

The model shows a general good ability in reconstructing the morphology of the optical turbulence (the shape of the vertical distribution of C2N) as well as the strength of all the integrated astroclimatic parameters. The relative error (with respect to measurements) of the averaged seeing on the whole atmosphere for the whole sample of 41 nights is within 9.0 per cent. The median value of the relative error night by night is equal to 18.7 per cent, so that the model still maintains very good performances. Comparable percentages are observed in partial vertical slabs (free atmosphere and boundary layer) and in different seasons (summer and winter). We prove that the most urgent problem, at present, is to increase the ability of the model in reconstructing very weak and very strong turbulence conditions in the high atmosphere. This evidence in the model mainly affects, at present, the model's performances for the isoplanatic angle predictions, for which the median value of the relative error night by night is equal to 35.1 per cent. No major problems are observed for the other astroclimatic parameters. A variant to the standard calibration method is tested but we find that it does not provide better results, confirming the solid base of the standard method.